tv The Chris Matthews Show NBC July 17, 2011 11:00am-11:30am EDT
>> this is "the chris matthews show." >> ask not what your country can do for you. >> tear down this wall. >> i can hear you. >> the time for change has come! chris: is nothing sacred? if there's no big deal on the national debt, with the 2012 republican challenger run on empty? can he or she carry the burden of rejecting big deficit reduction? what about obama, if there's no debt deal, will he have to defend the liberal label next year? the knives are out. should john boehner expect a full-blown mutiny. is eric cantor the number two house republican leading the tea party against their own speaker? finally, family business.
michele bachmann's number one in iowa but her family business about become her number one problem. it works to confer gays to straights. will that strike voters as sensible? will it sell on the stump, even among conservatives? hi, i'm chris matthews. welcome to the show. with us today, "new york" magazine john heilemann, cnn's gloria borger, nbc's kelly o'donnell and "time" magazine's joe klein. first up, narrative has been about trying for a big debt reduction deal this year but the political consequences for barack obama and g.o.p. nominee next year are the real story here. if there's no grand deal what are the 2012 consequences? for the president, there are some 2012 upsides perhaps even without a big deal. for one, he claimed the higher ground through all of these debates. for looking more reasonable and he also championed the middle class because he proposed more taxes on the rich. the downsides for the president would include looking weak for failing to get a big compromise.
also keeping the big spender tag. for the republican running for president next year, the up-sides of not getting a big deal are, keeping big spending charge against the president, good for them, and denying him a big victory. but there's the downsides for them, republican presidential candidate, by virtue of kicking the can down the road again. the tea party that looks like it's in their control. the g.o.p. more than that, they have the image now of being the party of the rich. john, let's go through sort of looking down the road in next year's election which a lot of this is about. how does it play out? >> well, this is the -- not the first of a series of issues that have shown president obama -- the fundamental promise he made to the country back in 2008 when he ran, which is that he could come to washington and sort of transcend the big part of the divid bring people together and do big things, that he's been unable to do those things largely. chris: this prove that's? >> yet again a case where the deep polarization of the city has proven unbudgetable and he's
not been able to change that. i think there's a reasonable chance republicans will be able to say as they force him if the debt ceiling gets decobbled from deficit reduction, then they force him to renew on a periodic basis, keep pushing the debt ceiling up. they will be able to embarrass him. chris: he has to play liberal 6789 -- liberal. >> and tag him as the guy over the course of the next 15 months on three, four occasions push the debt ceiling up and have it all be on his plate. chris: kelly, every time -- i want everybody in on this. it's the big question. so many times during the last couple of weeks, the president tried to be olympian. above the sweat of the politicians. every time he tried to get up on the pedestal, john boehner in a gentlemanly way knocked it out from under him. come down here with the rest of us. he hasn't been able to beat this olympian figure. >> i was struck by the fact he used the attack of his opponent, actually said the words grand ambition for bigger government. i was struck by the president saying he didn't have such a
grand ambition, and his opponents think he absolutely was. i was also struck by boehner and the president complimenting each other on the edges. >> make the point -- >> just that they're getting along this isn't personal, it's a deep policy divide. >> can i just say, he's winning this thing. i mean really, he is coming across as the most reasonable guy -- >> because? >> in a crazy city -- chris: how so? >> because he seems reasonable. when the president and -- when he says things like eat your peas, that's language americans can understand. the real important thing to understand about the whole debt ceiling business is that no one in america really knows what it means and they careless about it. they care about the economy and jobs. he seems to be a guy who's trying to do -- they don't understand that's a consequence. they didn't understand it until this week. chris: it's coming. what about the question can he still be the olympian above the
political fray? >> here's the thing about obama. he ran as a transformational president. he sees himself as transformational. he always has. what occurred between '08 and 2010 is the tea party. chris: let's talk about that. >> the tea party stopped that kind of transformation from occurring because it's hijacked the republican party and the john boehners of the world who would have cut a deal with the president of the united states. it's hijacked the republican party and it has now become substantially just a no-tax party as opposed to a party that cares about the deficit. i think no tax trumps their caring and concern about the deficit. chris: have you noticed all of these weeks now, pretty much, maybe not at the very end but who knows, romney, for example, stayed completely out of this. the republican front-runner, if he still is, says i don't want to get involved with tea party politics. >> there's no upside for the minutia but he can talk about
the big, broad issue what the country needs to do about debt. he can stay at that level but there's nothing to be gained getting into the machinations how the deal could be done. chris: i like this imagery. for the first time in following product politics, like in my case half a century watching this, i am stunned by the regimentation of the new republican party. it's not the party we knew. it's run from the bottom up. it's not boehner. >> at this point we have to mention the name of grover, who invented the pledge in 1986. he has all but six members of the house of representatives have signed it and all but seven senators, he is the most powerful, nonelected republican -- chris: who is he? what is he? >> he's a former geek. he's -- he was a kid from western massachusetts who -- who was a republican -- chris: why do all the of these senators and congress people do what he tells them to? >> he actually decided in high school he was going to impose
this. he said it would be a way to brand the republican party as coke or pepsi. up until that point, people didn't know what you got when you get with republicans. now they know. >> this is a man who successfully lobbied to get the name of the airport in d.c. changed to reagan airport. >> by the way, reagan not only would have accepted this deal on the table, he would have been the guy who came up with the deal. >> that result i believe now the republican party at least in the congress, particularly in the house, is more ideologically homogenous than the democratic party. the democratic party is much more diverse, which is why some of them might have bought off on a deal that president obama was offering. but the republicans now are such a homogenous block because they've all taken this pledge, it stops any compromise dead in its tracks. >> they're victory is more fresh in their minds. they were sent to washington. chris: imagine, let's project ahead to what a lot of this is about, which is the next year's election. the president of the united states, he's running for
re-election, we know that, perhaps against romney, who may be the front-runner. may be standing next to him. the president said your party is run by a bunch of crack pots, a bunch of fanatics who make you people march to your tune. is that something the president can say, you're run by i'd logs and win? >> he can make that argument and romney can try to be above that by being someone not above washington. he can try to make i'm an executive, the electability claim, which is certainly what republicans who support him see in him. chris: what about the party of the rich? romney was rich. does he get stuck with this tag during all of this discussion? i think some of this is obviously metaphor. corporate airplanes, 100 of them? i don't know. hedge fund operators, a thousand of people. the president said i can balance the budget if i go after these rich guys. the republicans defend them. >> mitt romney when he worked for bane capital, he will try to make that into a wall street firm and bane capital destroyed jobs rather than create jobs.
they will point to the record saying it's very, very poor. the problem for the president and this feeds back into something joe said a little while ago, i actually agree on substance, the president has been the adult. i agree with the president on substance has been that and he looked like the bigger figure. the problem is 15 months from now, he will be saying i looked like the bigger figure, i was willing to make the deal, you're all controlled by extremists, here's what's wrong with mitt romney and what joe said, where are my jobs? you may be right about all of that, barack obama, but for the last four years you haven't done anything to improve that. >> and that's where romney has been right. chris: to stay out of this. >> he kept his eyes on the prize. he understands the best issue republicans have going for him is a bum economy. he's focused on it. chris: conditions. they run on conditions. obama runs on what? put it to the matthews' meter, our regulars, gloria, including you and other people here, in next year's campaign, will
president obama have the image, the one he's established as the guy who stood above the people on the high ground up there. interviews say yes, including all four of you. gloria, to lead the pack here, everybody agrees he came out above the fight. >> he does come out above the fight but you have to play the results. i think it all goes back to what john is saying, which is this has been diversionarry for the president. he wants to be talking about creating jobs and people will look at this in terms of did he leave us out of that. chris: you said this is into next year's election. >> i think depending on where the economy is, sure. chris: the high ground isn't necessarily a great place. people want a president who's down in the muck fighting for jobs for them and this has been so totally off the table, and then it's really -- chris: joe, you're a complicated fellow here. you are writing a long thesis. you're saying he can beat
eisenhower and he will win that image because he's got that charm. you say that may not be where you want to be. >> people give him credit for that. when i talk to people around the country they think he's a smart, well intentioned guy who doesn't know anything about them. >> exactly right. chris: will this be a condition next year, deficit reduction come next fall? >> i think it's going to be a peripheral issue relative to jobs and health of the economy. chris: deficit reduction, debt ceiling. >> you have a couple presidential candidates out there. tim pawlenty saying he hopes and prays that there's no vote to raise the debt ceiling. chris: he may be praying next year about running. >> and no way she would approve. i think it will come up. >> but the debt issue will stay. chris: all of the stuff we're fighting about will be hot this year. >> even if this is destroyed, he can resubmit a $1.4 trillion deficit reduction package. >> and vote. chris: before we break, it's
nothing new for republicans to run against demiped of tax, of course. way before the tea party put the t in taxes, they learned george w. bush, 41 read my lips was a big mistake and good lesson for them not to say things like that. bush, of course, was forever dogged by that broken promise and "saturday night live" ridiculed his contortions trying to get right with the republican base. >> president bush, during your term the deficit has grown by almost a trillion dollars. >> i know. >> andestly now, don't you feel some kind of tax hike will be needed to reduce the deficit. >> jane, the answer is no. i will never raise taxes again and i may never, never, ever, never, ever again and i mean never, ever, ever, never, ever, never, ever -- >> thank you, mr. president. >> never, ever, ever, ever. never -- >> mr. president, please! >> never, ever, ever again. chris: never, ever, ever. that's comedy, of course. but more real than you can believe.
it's still the republican mantra. as we said before, the far right, anti-government gadfly grover norquist makes it his business to make them all recite that never ever pledge again and again. >> there's a majority of the members of the house of representatives who signed an ink in blood that they will never raise taxes. >> you should never raise taxes in order to cut taxes. >> i took a pledge when i became a straight representative to never raise taxes. chris: those are just 2 of the 236 house members and 412 u.s. senator that's signed grover norquist never, ever pledge. what power that man has. when we come back, michele bachmann's family business includes counseling gays to become straight. does that seem odd, even to conservative republicans?
chris: welcome back. is michele bachmann too extreme even for many christian conservatives? one of her central causes has been opposition to gay rights. >> if you're involved in the gay and lesbian lifestyle, it's bondage. it is personal bondage. personal despair and personal enslavement. and that's why this is so dangerous. chris: bondage enslavement. is that anti-gay fervor of hers where most americans, even conservative voters, are today? this week a gay advocacy group came out with undercover video of a counseling session at the clinic that bachmann owns with her husband marcus. the video seems to confirm the bachmanm's not only oppose gay rights but actively try to convert, if you will, gays using a religious message. >> the truth is god designed the guy to be attracted to the woman's body, to be attracted to, you know, everything.
chris: that's not exactly current science. that's religion really talking there, joe. is this goss to hurt her? >> it's not even religion. it's one form of religion. jesus never mentioned homosexuality. nor did moses, my guy. but -- chris: everybody's guy. >> on top of that, the notion of homosexuality as enslavement, what we have seen is an incredible liberation over the last 20 years. people i know who were suffering behind closed doors for a long time are now out and happy and leading productive lives. they're in the military. chris: so acceptance has become politically normal now? >> but it's important to understand this, if you're talking about the christian conservative language, bondage and enslavement are terms used all the time to refer to bing in a state of sinfulness. we hear them in a secular world having to do with slavery as we
know it. we use those terms all the time. chris: she's using that language in a secular interview. she's not doing it in church. >> but she's infused with that language. >> can i say now in a general election campaign, where republicans are going to be looking, -- where republicans are going to be looking towards a safe and reassuring candidate who they believe can win, younger -- let's put the gay community aside, younger voters will hear this and go -- chris: i want the new book. where do you put bachmann? can she with her ability on the stump, and she's a great stump politician, she's got all of the tickets, you might say to make it politically, but will this hold her back, this kind of thing? >> i think we know from polling across the country is the main thing that young primary voters want is somebody to beat barack obama. they're mostly motivated by anti-obama venomous. to get her out. anything that looks like she's the next plausible candidate makes her less likely to win the
nomination. i think all kinds of discussions of this sort which make he most mainstream people think this is not the way to fight the election. this is a slam dunk for barack obama if we spend our time talking about this issue. we want to talk about the economy. chris: next month the iowa strall poll, first big leading indicator will she win the nomination? will she win? >> yes, because nobody's competing. >> yeah, i think she's going to -- >> i think she's likely to win the straw poll. it won't matter a lot in eye -- it will matter in iowa but i don't think necessarily the long shot. chris: swing shot for until snm >> i think there's a possible. the real slingshot may turn out to be mitt romney, who's not going to compete that but come in second or third and get a swing shot in new hampshire that way. chris: when we come back, predictions from the top report
chris: welcome back. john, tell me something don't know. >> the tim geithner era looks like it's about to come to an end. seemed like the trezz victim will leave and there will be a big question about who's going to be the treasury secretary. the administration is looking at someone from the corporate sector who, a, will make business feel comfortable and b, telegraph the notion jobs are front and center. >> north carolina'ser skin bowles. >> certainly one serious candidate. cheryl sand burke, c.o.o. of
facebook. chris: former boss at ge. >> here's a name you probably haven't heard of -- john mandell. but watch, he is challenging sherrod brown. he has a republican primary but he's likely to emerge from that. he's 33 years old. fund-raising numbers came out. he is out in ohio. he outraised brown by $800,000. he's a candidate that's been endorsed by jim demint, tea party, and also moderate republicans. that's my home state. chris: sherrod brown will kick his butt. your thoughts. >> the bounce out of new york with gay marriage is going to land in washington in days to come when they're going to have the first hearing to repeal doma, defense of marriage act. that will give it a lot of attention. >> back to the issue dare not speak its name in washington, the economy. twice this weekend in the press conference, barack obama mentioned the idea of a national infrastructure bank. it's the next big idea.
we put in $10 billion. chris: to create jobs for 2012. >> it will create jobs and provide infrastructure that isn't riddled with pork because it's not going through the appropriations -- chris: can you get it through congress? >> maybe. chris: that would be a great idea. real shovel ready, real jobs. when we come back -- the question of the week for us, which republican candidate has the best possibility to be a great president?
chris: welcome back. this week's big question for us, of the republicans running for president, which one offers the best chance of becoming a great president? john heilemann? >> you know, i put down my chisel. i finished working on mt. rushmore the last time. i'm not in that business but think about harry truman, humble haberdasher. there's greatness within all of us, chris. >> i'm with him! chris: this is -- >> i think there are enough people on mt. rushmore, right. >> i want to be on somebody's republican bus so i think you're
pushing me over the cliff. >> chris: go for it. >> adopted a republican health care policy, passed health care plan, supported republican cap and trade answer on global warming. barack obama is the republican candidate who should be on mt. rushmore. chris: much more moderate than you think. i have no idea. thanks for a great round table. almost a complete wipeout put for joe, john heilemann, glory borger, kelly o'donnell and joe klein. what does greatness require? greatness. thank you for watching. see you next week.